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vaulted over balustrades in bank lobbies to meet secretaries, clerks and bank executives. He was the best orator Arkansawyers had ever heard, unless they happened to have caught one of William Jennings Bryan’s declamations in 1899 or 1910. But unlike other super-politicians like Bill Clinton, McMath couldn’t remember people’s names, calling women on his staff “Sweetheart” and the like. I traveled with him for three weeks — until Faubus’ Selective Service director instructed Margaret Black, who ran the draft office in Union County, to put me at the top of the September draft and I left the campaign and the paper to head to Fort Polk, La., for infantry training. McMath always called me “Eddie,” despite an aide’s murmuring to him from time to time that it was Ernie. But personal campaigning and rallies were fading in importance, because television and radio gave most people about all the intimacy with politicians they coveted. McMath didn’t have money for much of a media campaign. He made a short film in which he attacked Faubus’ control of all the regulatory mechanisms of government, which were used to enrich his big supporters, like Witt Stephens. McMath pointed to a giant blowup of a menacing, cigar-chomping Stephens, who 15 years earlier had been his own biggest supporter. If your gold standard for a politician was high-mindedness, unflinching honesty, or mere individuality, then your candidate in the primary was David A. Cox. All the memorable utterances from that campaign and most others fell from the parched lips of the sunburned farmer, a rail-thin man who usually wore a starched white shirt and black trousers from which the long end of his belt drooped eight or nine inches, which suggested that sometime in the distant past he had shed many pounds but had never invested in a shorter belt. Cox had lost an eye, several fingers and part of an ear as a youngster when he tried, as he explained it, to crawl through a barbed-wire fence with a loaded shotgun. While no reporters were around, Cox showed up at the Capitol and paid his filing fee for the Democratic primary. Secretary of State Nancy Hall gave him a biographical form to fill out, which helped reporters identify who the candidates were, their ages and something about their backgrounds. She said Cox told her he didn’t want any publicity, so there was nothing on the form but his name and the town Weiner. We couldn’t find him and that is about all that appeared in the papers. A couple of weeks later, Bill Shelton, the Arkansas Gazette city editor, told me that a guy named Dave Cox had called and asked for the location of the office of Amis Guthridge, the head of the Capital Citizens’ Council, the white-supremacy group that had fought school integration through the 1950s. Shelton asked him if he was the candidate for governor. He was. Cox told him he was going to go over to Guthridge’s place and “clean that sonofabitch’s plow.” The previous day I had covered a news conference at the Greyhound bus station on

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Profile for Arkansas Times

Arkansas Times | May 2019  

New Look for Pettaway KOKY KEEPS SPEAKING | DRIVING THE TALIMENA BYWAY | BIG IDEAS 2019

Arkansas Times | May 2019  

New Look for Pettaway KOKY KEEPS SPEAKING | DRIVING THE TALIMENA BYWAY | BIG IDEAS 2019